What Exactly is Herd Immunity?

This morning after reading the latest from our local paper on Covid stats (Citizen Times, Thursday, July 29, 2021) CitzenTimes.com., an opinion article authored by Eugene Robinson, Columnist was titled “The unvaccinated are testing our luck.” With a background of teaching college level courses in Infectious disease, I was drawn to the article that featured herd immunity, which in my opinion, is not well defined on our media.

Quote from the first paragraph:

“It is hard to know how deadly and disruptive the COVID-19 surge brought on by the delta variant will ultimately prove to be. But one thing is clear: It is completely unnecessary. The vast majority of those who now get sick have only themselves to blame.”

Quote from the last paragraph:

“Any effective investment in getting the nation and the world to herd immunity will ultimately be worthwhile. And it is in everyone’s interest to save anti-vaxxers from their own wrongheaded stubborness.”

Please read for more, Click HERE.

Weight Gain and Inflammation

“Researchers have found a possible explanation for why being overweight is harmful. This new knowledge may provide new drugs for heart attack, stroke, cancer and chronic intestinal inflammation.”

Weight control programs based on lifestyle changes that focus on behavioral strategies for caloric intake and increasing physical activity have been demonstrated to be successful.

CLICK HERE.

Pre Diabetes and Cognitive Decline

In the News

Pre diabetes linked to cognitive decline

“People with higher than normal blood sugar called prediabetes, are more likely to experience cognitive decline and vascular dementia according to a study published in Diabetes, Metabolism, and Obesity.  

Researchers analyzed UK biobank data from almost 450,000 people averaging 58 years old who underwent an HB A1C test, which determines average blood sugar levels over the past two to three months.

Based on these results, they were divided into one of five groups:  low normal blood sugar, normal blood sugar, pre diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes, and diabetes. Pre diabetes was classified as having a hemoglobin A1C blood test reading of 6.0% – 6.5% %. Ideal A1C levels are under 5.5%

Results show that people with above normal sugar levels were:

42% more likely to experience cognitive decline over four years and 54% were more likely to develop vascular dementia over eight years. Vascular dementia is caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

People with prediabetes and diabetes had similar rates of cognitive decline, 42% and 39% respectively.

MRI brain scans revealed that pre diabetes was associated with a smaller hippocampus and more strongly associated with having lesions on the brain, both of which are associated with age related cognitive impairment.”

Diabetes is thought to be prevented by making some easy lifestyle adjustments in diet and exercise, in other words a diet that restricts refined carbohydrates, sweetened drinks (including fruit juice) and keeping your weight at a reasonable level with more emphasis on the lower carbohydrate side (less than 40 percent of total calories.) Please consult with your physician before you begin any calorie restricted diet, however.

Source: Diabetes Obes Metab. 2021; 1-10.

Life Extension, May 2021

Diet and Lifestyle in Diabetes Control

Notes: Sally Feltner, M.S., Ph.D.

Diabetes blood sugar control is getting worse for U.S. adults. By Bobbie Berman, June 14, 2021 .

The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Fang, Michael, Ph.D., et al. Trends in Diabetes Treatment and Control in U.S. Adults. 2021; 384; 2219-2228, 

After scanning the original article in NEJM for any mention of the role of diet in the control of glycemic parameters, I found none.

In the article above by Mr. Berman, there is only a mention of diet in the following manner:

“A person with diabetes can still eat the foods that they enjoy, just less frequently or in smaller portions.

Follow the advice of a doctor or dietitian, eat a varied meal plan that includes foods from all groups, and stick to the recommended amounts.

Some people with diabetes should eat at the same time each day, while others have a little more flexibility when it comes to the timings of meals. Portion size is also very important in people with diabetes. Speak to a dietitian about the best way to manage this.”

Finally, someone gave it at least an after thought. I had a close relative with diabetes type 2 who when asked if he had ever seen a certified diabetic educator (CDE, often a dietitian,) or spoken about diet with his physician. He always said “No”. 

Perhaps if doctors were more educated about the effects of diet on diabetes control, patients would be more compliant with these recommendations. I am not a certified diabetic educator, but am retired as a registered dietitian. I strongly recommend that if you are diabetic, consult with your primary care physician and try to see someone with the proper credentials about diabetes care. (Sally Feltner)

Take a look at the following article on a study done to compare lifestyle factors vs. metformin ( a common compound taken by diabetic patients for glucose control) Spoiler Alert: LIFESTYLE FACTORS WIN OUT OVER METFORMIN and prevention is the key.

CLICK HERE.

UNPROCESSED FOOD?

“Unprocessed or minimally processed foods are whole foods in which the vitamins and nutrients are still intact. The food is in its natural (or nearly natural) state. These foods may be minimally altered by removal of inedible parts, drying, crushing, roasting, boiling, freezing, or pasteurization, to make them suitable to store and safe to consume. Unprocessed or minimally processed foods would include carrots, apples, raw chicken, melon, and raw, unsalted nuts.”

Kathryn D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN

Harvard Health Publishing, 2020

We talk a lot about the bad stuff (processed foods) and not about the good stuff – unprocessed food. Good definition above. These are beginning to be hard to find in the supermarkets. The following article reports on a doctor’s experience of what it is like to eat Ultraprocessed foods for one month.

CLICK HERE.

The Deadly Tomato?

The Deadly, Deadly Tomato.

“Botanically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit; technically, they’re a berry and legally a vegetable. In 1893 a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, the tomato became legally classified as a vegetable because it’s used as one. More recently, tomato ketchup was named a vegetable in the school lunch program.”

In the late 1700’s, a large percentage of Europeans were afraid of the lowly tomato. It was literally called a “a poison apple” because the higher classes of consumers at the time and place were thought to have died from eating them. An explanation? Wealthy Europeans use pewter plates high in lead content and the tomato got all the blame.

Early herbalist and religious references botanically named it also a mandrake (AKA as an aphrodisiac) and classified it as a poisonous nightshade called Solanaceae thought to contain toxins called tropane alkaloids. Other foods in this classification include the eggplant. Currently, some people consider them a problem especially if you have arthritis pain – cutting nightshades out of your diet may be worth a try; however, there is no reliable evidence to support this claim.  

The best tomatoes are seasonal – many of you may remember waiting for them to be at their flavor peak in the late summers (dependent on what part of the country you lived in like the northeast and upper Midwest states.) There, the weather is ideal for tomato growth with hotter days and cooler nights. It is best to buy tomatoes from local farmers and getting vine-ripened whenever possible. They taste the best and their flavor is at peak time.

” The fruit’s origin began in the Americas and eaten by Aztecs as early as 700 AD where it was known as the “tomatl.” It wasn’t grown in Britain until the 1590’s. It was associated with hotter climates and for this reason in cooler climates was only used as ornamental instead of food.”

“The first known reference to tomato was in 1710 in the British North American colonies and places the tomato in the Carolinas where it began to be accepted even with its ominous background.  Recipes appeared in American cookery manuscripts, but fears and rumors lingered. Around 1880, the tomato grew in popularity in Europe due to the invention of the pizza. Presently, the United States has become the world’s largest tomato producer.

Nutritional Information

Tomatoes have considerable vitamin C and some vitamin A.

Tomatoes are claimed to be an anticancer weapon. It contains lycopene, the plant pigment makes the fruit red. It is particularly associated as a prostate cancer fighter. 

However, it is best consumed when heated with oil for this effect.

Tomatoes also have a compound called lutein that may help prevent macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older people.

Source:

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, Smith, 2007

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S

What Healthy Eating Means Now

After years of research on the subject, the consensus appears to be that there is no single diet that’s right for all of us. However, we have learned that we have a better idea of what healthy eating looks like.

The key is your overall eating pattern, not so much how many grams of carbohydrate, fat or protein you eat, or whether it is animal or plant protein. The choices are many: vegetarian?, vegan?, low fat?, low carb? Or perhaps flexetarian ( a little of both?)

The general healthiest pattern is emerging that consists mostly of nutrient dense whole foods that come from nature and includes few, if any highly processed foods. A closer look at this pattern recommends lots of vegetables and avoid sugar and refined grains.

When assessed for weight control, studies show that when individuals are divided into two major groups either low fat or low carbohydrate ,both groups lost weight – an average of 12 pounds, though some lost as much as 50 pounds. The participants also ate healthier and greatly improved their risk factors for heart disease and diabetes: body fat, waist size, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels all of which can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.

A most important recent finding is that eating healthy can make a difference in how well your immune system functions, so important now as it is greatly needed to fight COVID-19. 70 percent of our immune system resides in the gut; therefore we must become more aware of providing nutrients that feed these gut bacteria. Packaged foods create inflammation and hamper immunity. These include not only sweetened drinks, but breakfast cereals, refined bread and pasta. Look more toward whole grains. “A poor-quality diet loaded with sugar, saturated fat, salt, and chemicals is second to only to smoking in terms of its negative effects on health and lifespan,” says, Dr. Steven Heymsfield, professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who was part of the development of the 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines.

The best diet is the one that you choose after looking at the evidence that provides healthy benefits. Dr. Heymsfield says: “You could even try a diet for several weeks while keeping track of how it affects your weight, level of hunger and fullness, your mood, blood pressure and level of energy. Then try another for a few weeks and compare the results.”

Source: Nutrition: Your Healthiest Diet, Special Health Edition. 2021

Living Longer with Carbohydrates: The Okinawan Way

“The traditional Okinawan diet was about 80% carbohydrate. Before 1940, Okinawans also consumed fish at least three times a week together with seven servings of vegetables and maybe one or two servings of grains a day. They also ate two servings of flavonoid-rich soy, usually in the form of tofu. Dairy and meat represented about 3% of their calories. They didn’t eat much fruit; they enjoyed a few eggs a week” They particularly had/have an affinity for sweet potatoes.

The Okinawan Clues to Longevity

Have a purpose in life – i.e. a reason to get up in the morning .

Rely on a plant-based diet .

Get gardening .

Eat more soy .

Maintain a social network.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Stay active.

Plant a medicinal garden with beneficial herbs.

Enjoy simple pleasures.

Source: Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones Solution, 2015

The following article explains much of the recent research as to why this culture has had so much success in living a relatively speaking healthy lifestyle – it is worth a read. It does not mean we all need to go buy pounds of sweet potatoes; however I think I may have one for dinner. (SJF).

CLICK HERE.

Big Food?

“Robert Goldstein, a hedge fund manager in New York, was getting huge cravings for sweets when he came across a tropical plant called Gymnema sylvestre that works a little like methadone for heroin addicts.” What does that have to do with “big food”? Too much, I’m afraid.

CLICK HERE.

UNHEALTHY PROCESSED FOOD AND SNACKS CAN LEAD TO OBESITY

The Mind-Gut Connection

A new developing science states: The connection between the mind and gut is bidirectional; the gut talks to the brain and the brain talks to the gut. Major health problems can appear when this system is disturbed; One way to minimize this is to keep your microbial “self” happy and working properly. The connection can affect mood and overall health.

HOW TO FEED YOUR GUT MICROBES

Try to maintain a variety of diverse gut microbes by maximizing your consumption of naturally fermented food and probiotics (these foods “feed” your own intestinal microbes.)

For reduction of gut inflammation, try these:

Cut down on animal fat in your diet.

Avoid when possible, mass-produced ultra-processed foods.

Reduce stress and practice mindfulness of what you’re eating..

Avoid eating when you are stressed, angry or sad.

Enjoy foods and eat with family and friends.

Listen to your gut feelings and signals.

CLICK HERE.